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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Why The Business Model Is Not Right for Children

In Education, Education advocacy, Pedagogy, Politics, School reform on Tuesday, 9 April 2013 at 09:25

one of my schools is looking at outsourcing to a “business model” in which students who would traditionally be sent to the alternative education program because of discipline issues would now be “outsourced” to a company that has their ‘business centers’ in strip malls in which kids sit in front of computers for 4-5 hours a day while supervised by a teacher who also acts as school nurse, receptionist, custodian, etc.  there are no security guards or resource officers, as the salespeople from the company said they “never” have discipline problems.  in just this year alone, at the school which now holds the alternative program, we have had many arrests for things like aggravated assault, stealing, bringing drugs with and without intention to sell, sexual harassment…i could go on but it is just listing very poor choices that these children make/made.  i really can’t see how being in front of a computer will deter behaviors.  especially with the limited supervision of one or two staff members who may have a college degree and it may or may not be in education.  if they truly never have discipline issues, we must be doing something wrong because we have had to arrest many of our kids while at school for the types of activities i mentioned above.  

the salespeople touted that the kids would “feel like they are walking into an office building” and no attendance would be taken as it is not needed.   i guess once these kids are put into a business setting they immediately start attending “work” every day.   we have in place now a very strict attendance policy and some still skip school.  in fact, many do not care about the consequences they get now,  so, they will miraculously start going to “work-school” everyday when they skip our program now???   i don’t think so.  but…would anything else be expected from a for-profit program that treats children as if they are “consumers” or “customers?”

no meals will be provided.  the majority of these kids are on free and reduced lunch now and our meals at school might be the only ones they get that day.  what about kids who are in the special education program?  ones that may not be able to read the words on the computer screen or sit in front of a computer and guide themselves.  i have one child with such a severe reading disability that he is reading on a 2nd grade level in 9th grade.  and he will be successful working solely on a computer???  how will iep’s be followed? who is going to do the 3 crisis interventions i did this year for kids who were very seriously contemplating suicide (one even brought a straight edge razor blade to school)?  had the school not done a back pack search, as they do everyday with all kids, the razor blade would likely not have been found and we’d be dealing with a whole other situation.  what about counseling the girl who was hallucinating and seeing things?  what about the community service program all our kids must participate in?  is computer-based learning really best for kids who can’t even be motivated to sit in class and do class work or learn from actual, human teachers?  there are some kids that would thrive in self-directed, computer-based program.  from my experience in our alternative program, the majority of the kids there can’t even sit at a computer for a class period, much less hours and would certainly not thrive in that type of situation.  i feel this is setting them up for failure.  i won’t even go into the fact that this program is considered “private” which means no test scores have to be reported.  so, does that mean these “at-risk” kids who may not add to the increase (and may actually contribute to a decrease) in test scores don’t count?  that seems like the message being sent.

as i said, when the salespeople from this company spoke to the board, they really emphasized the fact that this program was a “business setting” and kids would feel like they are “walking into an office to work.”  but wait, they have all their lives to work and will spend the majority of it doing just that.  why do they need to start “working” in middle or high school?  the reason the that the teachers that are now teaching at the alternative school are so effective in helping these kids is based on the personal connection and truly individualized education they give.  not sure how the kids are going to get that from a computer screen.

the school board votes on this program this week.  i hope they realize that saving some money now will only lead to more issues later that  we, as a society will have to pay.  by this, i mean that while some of our kids go on to never get in trouble again, the majority are already heavily involved with gangs, have long school discipline records, and most have been arrested as juveniles many times (we have had kids that were charged with assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault and battery, rape, sexual assault/harassment,  carjacking and kidnapping, just to name a few).  we already know recidivism rate for these kids is high.  without exposure to those who show a true interest in these children and truly care about giving them the best education possible instead of hiding them away in a strip mall behind a computer, these kids will surely get the message that they don’t matter.  and recidivism will decrease?  i don’t think so.  and, when these “business people” get out into the real world, we likely will pay, via taxes, when they are in jail or in and out of the judicial system.  

school is NOT a business.  schools should not model themselves after businesses nor think of students as workers or customers.  while the ins and outs of the school system and such things as budgets and maintenance are business issues, the individual schools should be kept out of this model.  kids are kids.  they have their whole lives to work.  i fear without the alternative program as it is now (in an actual school with actual teachers as well as counselors, psychologists, and social workers), we will be seeing many, many more kids choose a path they may not live to see through.  or, they may see it through bars or from the grave.  we all know the statistics…

Why The Business Model Is Not Right for Children.

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good article.

In Education advocacy, Politics, School reform, Special Education on Friday, 1 March 2013 at 15:13

http://www.aasa.org/uploadedFiles/Policy_and_Advocacy/files/AASA%20Sequestration%20July%202012.pdf

arne…friend or foe?

In Education, Education advocacy, Politics, School reform, Special Education on Friday, 1 March 2013 at 15:08

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2013/02/arne_duncans_education_sequest.html

education and obama’s next four years…

In Education, Education advocacy, Pedagogy, Politics, School reform on Sunday, 3 February 2013 at 16:17

basically, same old, same old…

http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2013/01/gerald_coles_education_in_obam.html

Did Obama Just Perform A “Progressive Pivot-Point” On Education Policy?

In Education, Education advocacy, Politics, School reform on Friday, 25 January 2013 at 07:48

Did Obama Just Perform A “Progressive Pivot-Point” On Education Policy?.

education and the fiscal cliff

In Education, Education advocacy, Politics, School reform on Wednesday, 2 January 2013 at 13:43

K-12 Aid Faces Uncertain Future, Despite ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal

By Alyson Klein

Education programs will be spared the prospect of the largest across-the-board cuts in history, but only temporarily, under a bill to avert much of the so-called “fiscal cliff,” overwhelmingly approved by Congress on Tuesday.

The measure, which passed the U.S. Senate 89-8 early Tuesday morning and the U.S. House 257-167 Tuesday night, will delay the trigger cuts known as “sequestration,” which have been set to hit just about every government agency—including the U.S. Department of Education—on Jan. 2. Under the deal, the cuts will be postponed until March, giving federal lawmakers time to craft a broader budget agreement. The deal was worked out at the 11th hour by Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the Senate minority leader.

In the House, where approval seemed touch-and-go most of Tuesday, nearly every Democrat voted for the bill, while 85 Republicans supported it. Sixteen Democrats, and 151 Republicans voted against the measure.

To help pay for the postponement of the trigger cuts—which would slice 8.2 percent from a wide range of programs, including K-12 education—lawmakers have agreed to $12 billion in revenue increases, plus $12 billion in spending cuts, including $6 billion from domestic programs, according to published reports. It’s unclear how, and whether, those cuts would affect education spending.

The deal essentially sets up yet another major fiscal fight later on this year. Congress will need to come up with new legislation to cope with sequestration by March. That could involve a fresh round of domestic-spending cuts, which, in turn, could put education programs on the chopping block.

Plus, the federal government is operating on a temporary budget, called a continuing resolution, which expires at the end of March. Lawmakers will have to figure out a final budget for fiscal year 2013, which began back on Oct. 1, or face the prospect of a government shutdown.

To top it all off, the nation has hit the federal debt ceiling yet again, meaning that the government will need new legislation to be allowed to borrow more money—and keep agencies and programs in business. A measure to deal with that issue will also need to be approved in the next couple of months.

Education advocates fear the result may well be more chaos, since it was the last deal to raise the debt ceiling, back in August of 2011, that put sequestration in place to begin with. Republicans have said they do not want to raise the debt ceiling without reducing spending.

All this adds up to a lot of continued uncertainty for school districts and their advocates.

The fiscal-cliff deal is “sort of like a temporary stay of execution,” said Joel Packer, the executive director of the Committee for Education Funding, a lobbying coalition. “We’re hoping we get pardoned. …. It just creates sort of another cliff two months from now.”

And the next fiscal year, 2014, could prove to be even more difficult, Packer said, in part because of the reduced domestic spending in the budget agreement, and in part because the Pell Grant program, which helps low-income students cover the cost of college, continues to eat up a bigger share of education funding. The program, which is exempt from sequestration, faces a structural deficit, in part because of higher demand for the grants as more students enroll in postsecondary education.

Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, a 1.5 million member union, urged House lawmakers to vote in favor of the fiscal cliff package, while acknowledging that it is “imperfect,” in part because schools will continue to face budget uncertainty.

“As important as this relief is right now to the majority of Americans, this is a temporary, Band-Aid solution,” said Weingarten in a statement. “Kicking the can down the road for two months means that we still face the possibility of staggering and debilitating cuts to public schools, health care and services that our kids and families count on.”

If the sequestration cuts do end up going through in March, most school districts wouldn’t feel the pinch until the start of the 2013-14 school year, because of the way that key programs, such as Title I grants for districts and special education aid, are funded. That gives districts a planning window to figure out how to implement the cuts without hurting student achievement—and it gives Congress and the Obama administration more time to work out a deal.

But other programs, such as the Head Start preschool program for low-income children, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, would be cut right away. And the impact-aid program would feel the sequestration sting in April, when districts receive their next payments. That program helps districts with a large federal presence, such as a military base. More on the cuts here.

One thing is almost certain: Congress will be very busy over the next several months trying to figure out solutions to these various fiscal puzzles. That leaves less time for education legislation—meaning that pending renewals of programs governing special education, community and development grants, higher education, career and technical education, and workforce development—not to mention the long-stalled reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (currently known as No Child Left Behind)—could continue to sit for a while.

Still, there’s some good news for education programs in the deal. Key tax provisions, including the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which helps families afford college, were extended. And the deal includes an extension of the Qualified Zone Academy Bond program, as well as a tax credit that helps teachers purchase supplies for their classrooms.

Retrieved from: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2013/01/school_districts_continue_to_f.html

How education could plunge off the ‘fiscal cliff’

In Education, Education advocacy, Politics, School reform on Friday, 23 November 2012 at 07:10

How education could plunge off the ‘fiscal cliff’

by Donna Krache, CNN

(CNN) Sequestration: The word strikes fear in the hearts of school boards and administrators nationwide, and with good reason.

What does it mean? The term refers to the across-the-board budget cuts that will automatically occur in federal programs in January 2013, unless Congress reaches an agreement by the end of this year on reducing the deficit.

What kind of cuts will this mean for education?

The American Association of School Administrators (AASA) estimates the reductions would amount to over $4 billion. That would plunge education funding into pre-2003 levels, according to the National Education Association.

Why is that so scary? Part of the reason is that America’s schools have added 5.4 million new students to their rolls since 2003, and costs have risen about 25%. Budget cuts triggered by the fiscal cliff could potentially affect millions of students and teachers by reducing programs and services and increasing class sizes.

According to Deborah Rigsby, director of federal legislation for the National School Boards Association, if sequestration happens, each school district could lose more than $300,000 for every 5,000 children enrolled.

“Sequestration would hurt our school districts and ultimately, our students,” said Rigsby on a conference call Wednesday.

Not all of the effects would be immediate, although some federal programs, such as Title I, Head Start, and state special education funding would feel the impact of the cuts right away. Schools that receive Impact Aid funding would also experience immediate cuts.

Schools would really feel the hit next academic year. According to the National School Boards Association (NSBA), sequestration won’t automatically impact most schools’ 2012-2013 budgets, but for the 2013-2014 school year, the impact could be “profound.”

U.S. Senate subcommittee warns that cuts would spell out layoffs for more than 46,000 employees nationwide, unless states or communities covered their salaries.

But many states and school districts may not be able to help. In an AASA surveypublished in July, state and local districts were asked if they’d have ability to soften the impact of sequestration. Some 90% of them said they didn’t – that their state would be unable to help absorb or offset the cuts.

“We love our public education here, but we feel like we’re under attack,” said Juandiego Wade of Virginia’s Charlottesville City Schools on the NSBA conference call. “We don’t have the resources to supplant those federal funds.”

Already out of reserves drained during recession years, states would have to respond by reducing teachers’ professional development, programs such as after-school and enrichment, and personnel, according to the survey. Also on the table: Deferring textbook and technology purchases and reducing extracurricular activities.

Some schools are bracing for impact.

A little more than half of the school districts that responded to the survey say that they have built some cuts into their 2013-2014 budgets to offset sequestration. A little less than half say they have not and plan to address the cuts when they happen.

Board member Jill Wynns of the San Francisco Unified School District says that California would lose $387 million in education funds in the first year alone of sequestration. And that’s on top of 20-24% cuts the state has already made to its education budget since the 2007-2008 school year.

“This is not saving money. It’s disinvesting in our future,” said Wynns.

Education advocates and organizations have launched massive efforts to put pressure on the president and Congress to prevent sequestration.

The National School Boards Association has reached out to Congress and raised awareness among its members, giving them steps they can take to help stop the cuts from happening.

The National PTA has a sequestration toolkit to provide its state and local units with information as well as templates for letters to Congress and media outlets to turn the pressure up on elected officials.

On the NSBA call, the Virginia school board member reflected on the recent elections and spending priorities.

“Our state saw a lot of campaign money spent here last month. I wish some of it could be spent now on education,” said Wade.

Retrieved from: http://schoolsofthought.blogs.cnn.com/2012/11/15/how-education-could-plunge-off-the-fiscal-cliff/

ralph nader’s 17 solutions

In Politics on Friday, 16 November 2012 at 11:00

http://sg.finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/ralph-nader-17-solutions-easier-think-turn-country-130115438.html

education week’s voters guide…

In Education, Politics on Monday, 5 November 2012 at 13:35

http://www.edweek.org/ew/collections/election2012/voters-guide.html

What to Watch for on Election Night: Education Edition

In Education, Education advocacy, Politics on Monday, 5 November 2012 at 12:55

 

By Rick Hess on November 5, 2012 6:17 AM

What does tomorrow hold? For all those educators, scholars, and advocates who don’t have a lot of time to track national politics or wonder about what the results might mean for education, let’s take a quick spin around the block:

First, the conventional wisdom is that President Obama has better than a 70% chance of being reelected. Most scenarios have him winning around 280 or 290 electoral votes (270 are needed for victory.) Obama would win 290 if Romney claims Indiana (a foregone conclusion) and Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia–but plucks nothing else from Obama’s 2008 column. If Obama’s electoral vote total creeps much above 300, you could hear talk of a surprisingly strong victory; alternatively, the narrative could emphasize that Obama would almost assuredly be the first president to fare worse in his reelection bid than in winning his first term. While nobody imagines that education has played much of a role in this fall’s election, the results will have important consequences for K-12 and higher ed: An Obama win would minimize potential cuts for education and ensure that efforts to resuscitate “gainful employment” and to promote NCLB waivers continue to roll forward. At the same time, since both candidates (but especially Obama) have run vague, agenda-less campaigns, it’ll be hard for the winner to claim much of a mandate to do anything particular come January–especially given a sharply divided electorate.

Second, Romney could certainly win. To do so, he’d likely need to claim North Carolina (probable), Florida (he’s the slight favorite), Virginia (a toss-up), Ohio (where Obama seems to be about three points ahead), and one other small state (probably New Hampshire or Colorado). If Romney were to somehow claim Wisconsin or Pennsylvania, or a couple small swing states like Iowa and Nevada, his path would be easier. For some of the implications of a Romney win, see here.

Third, there’s a fair chance that the successful candidate will lose the popular vote while winning the electoral college. If there is such a split (which is probably close to a 50-50 bet in the case of an Obama victory), it’s unlikely that the outcome would have much practical effect. Normally, we might imagine such a split to cause a ruckus or give the winner extra impetus to extend the olive branch to the other side. That might, for instance, be expected to offer an opening for NCLB reauthorization (just as Bush’s efforts to romance key Democrats in 2001 were part of the aggressive push on No Child Left Behind). But, given that the Republicans benefited from this scenario just a decade ago, reaction is likely to be modulated due to the sense that turnabout is fair play. Meanwhile, if it’s Obama facing off against House Republicans (as seems likely), well…

Fourth, we may not know the official winner for days or weeks. The result could easily hinge on a couple swing states where the race currently looks to be razor close. Between recount procedures, provisional ballots, legal challenges, and the rest, some of those states might take days or weeks to sort things out. Depending on who wins, this could impact public attitudes about government, negotiations over sequestration, or even (if Romney wins) the assembly of the next cabinet and Department.

Fifth, surprisingly, it looks like Democrats will keep control of the Senate. As recently as August, it was pretty much assumed that Republicans would capture the Senate–because the Dems are defending a massive number of open and vulnerable seats. Yet, Republicans seem to be blowing their chances in Missouri, Ohio, and elsewhere. Meanwhile, Dems appear poised to gain seats in, at least, Massachusetts and Indiana. It now seems likely that Dems (and Dem-allied independents) will hold between 52 and 55 seats in the Senate, giving them powerful sway over a potential Romney agenda. At the same time, the GOP will have at least 45 seats and remain well-positioned to frustrate an Obama agenda. One intriguing twist: If the Democrats hold the Senate, Lamar Alexander will take over for Mike Enzi as the ranking Republican on the Senate education committee. Alexander, the former U.S. Secretary of Education who gave up his high-ranking position in the Senate Republican hierarchy so that he’d be freer to speak his mind, is the most thoughtful and sophisticated Republican in the Senate when it comes to education issues. Having made it clear that he thinks the feds have overreached on education, Alexander’s ascendancy could stir the pot in unexpected ways.

Sixth, it’s almost certain that Republicans will hold the House, while losing perhaps a half-dozen seats. This means that a Speaker Boehner would be positioned to check a second Obama administration just as he has in 2011 and 2012. Now, one thing to keep an eye on is that several Tea Party celebrities from 2010–Daniel Webster, Allen West, and Michele Bachmann among them–are in tight races. If some of these folks lose, combined with an Obama victory and a good night for Dems in the Senate, it could add luster to the Democrats’ night and chasten House Republicans. Such an outcome would fuel talk that Obama has beaten back the Tea Party and regained momentum, and could strengthen his hand in the coming face-off with House Republicans over budget cuts, taxes, and his second term agenda.

Seventh, there are several key education or education-related referenda in the states that are worth keeping an eye on. In Washington state, voters will decide on Initiative 1240 to allow 40 charter schools to open in the next five years. Washington voters previously rejected charter initiatives in 1996, 2000, and 2004. The measure is backed by donors including Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and Jeff Bezos, and opposed by the Washington Education Association. In Idaho, three initiatives ask voters to approve of dramatic legislation to phase out tenure, limit collective bargaining, and institute merit pay. In Michigan, the union-backed Proposal 2 would make collective bargaining for public employees a constitutional right. In California, Governor Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 would boost sales and income taxes to close the state’s massive deficit; he’s promised that schools will suffer if Prop 30 goes down. Meanwhile, Proposition 32 would limit the ability of unions to use member contributions to fund political activities. If unions triumph on most of these (especially if California votes to raise taxes), it’ll suggest that the teachers unions are on a roll after their victory in Chicago. If Washington passes charters; the unions lose in Idaho, Michigan, and California; and California voters don’t boost taxes, we could be in for turbulent times ahead. If the verdict is mixed, well, we’ll have to sort through the results to see what it all means.

Bottom line: Given that Dems are likely to hold the Senate (with a modest majority), Republicans are likely to hold the House, and the President is likely to win narrowly, it’s doubtful that the results are going to yield much change in Washington from what we’ve seen during the past two years. For one thing, especially with Congress already eyeing a very full plate and the NCLB waiver process well underway, I’d put the odds of NCLB reauthorization actually happening before 2015 at less than ten percent. Meanwhile, the likelihood that new ideological, uncompromising icons, like Democrat Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts and Republican Ted Cruz from Texas, will be replacing more pragmatic Republicans like Scott Brown and Kay Bailey Hutchison, means that partisan polarization will continue apace. (If you’re trying to souse all this out, you may want to attend or watch the livestream of AEI’s Thursday morning panel “What will the 2012 election mean for education?“)

Retrieved from: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/rick_hess_straight_up/2012/11/what_to_watch_for_on_election_night_education_edition.html

 

don’t blame teachers…an opinion from across the pond.

In Education, Education advocacy, Pedagogy, Politics, School reform on Monday, 5 November 2012 at 08:21

Yes, teachers ought to inspire, but they can’t work in isolation

It’s the lack of opportunities, not teachers’ expectations, which prevents disadvantaged children from escaping their background

Will Huton

The Observer, Saturday 27 October 2012

David Laws, newly restored to the front rank of British politics as Lib Dem education minister, is a disgrace to his party and political tradition. He was one of the principal architects of the coalition agreement, one of whose consequences was to undermine Britain’s threadbare social contract. Now, compounding the felony, he has joined the choir of elite figures who attack teachers as undermining working-class aspirations.

Last week, he told the Daily Telegraph, voicing what he imagined is the emerging consensus, that teachers’ “depressingly low expectations” fail to encourage too many children “to reach for the stars”. Too few teachers, career advisers and colleges encouraged pupils to believe they could reach the top. Improved social mobilitydemanded change.

There is no easier constituency to attack than teachers, especially as, at first glance, Laws has a point. In too many schoolsteaching is little more than getting through the day without incident, shepherding the barely controllable class to modest qualifications. Of course it should be better and teachers and teaching unions would do their cause a great deal of good if they committed themselves fully to excellence and aspiration. There are enough barriers to disadvantaged children breaking out of their situation without teachers offering another.

But to focus merely on the shortcomings of teachers is to dodge huge questions, not just about the nature of contemporary society but about what it means to live a life well. Stagnant social mobility characterises the entire industrialised west. And, uncomfortable as it may be for those who believe that social class is so very yesterday, the brutal truth is that the higher the inequality and the weaker a country’s social contract, the lower its mobility and aspiration. Inequality matters. Blaming hapless teachers for deep trends that have an impact on all western societies is little better than scapegoating.

Too much discussion of inequality takes as axiomatic why we should be concerned about the extent to which the top 1%’s incomes are outstripping the rest, driven by technology, skills and not a little old-fashioned exploitation. Yet what makes inequality toxic is not so much the differential buying power but that it creates social groups in which the members of society have no idea or stake in how others live and which work as self-fulfilling traps.

The more hermetically sealed the world of the rich, the less a sense of obligation or shared destiny they feel they have with the rest of society. Conversely, for the average and disadvantaged, the chance of escaping their position becomes ever more remote as expectations and aspirations, collapse along with their relative incomes.

Laws says it is deplorable that even young people in his own constituency of Yeovil, not a social black spot, feel that a career in investment banking is so much another world that they and their teachers would not aim to join it. But such a response is completely rational.

Investment banking is another world. Nor are its denizens interested in creating wealth on the ground in Britain. To declare yourself a candidate means doing something of dubious value, where the objective odds of selection are tiny.

I doubt Laws would criticise, say, Lord O’Donnell for not being aspirational enough to be candidate for the governorship of the Bank of England: why set yourself up for a highly probable failure? Precisely the same logic applies to a bright student from a state school in Yeovil, pondering a career in investment banking. In any case, even if Yeovil’s half-a-dozen brightest end up working at Goldman Sachs, in what way would anything substantive be solved for the rest of Yeovil’s school-leavers?

Of course school-leavers want to make the best of themselves, live a life they have reason to value and find jobs where employers allow them to do just that. Most social mobility is not driven by making spectacular leaps across ever widening social gaps, even though we should never discourage the attempt. Rather, it is done by joining an organisation and working one’s way up. The problem is that so few of today’s employers provide such ladders and those that do are being driven by economic exigency to remove them.

Promotion in the public sector has been close to eliminated by the over-the-top austerity for which Mr Laws is such an enthusiast. By next year, for example, it will be four years since the Metropolitan Police stopped promoting constables to sergeants. Meanwhile, in the private sector, large organisations are removing layers of management and very few offer starter job apprenticeships on any scale. Barclays, creating 1,000 apprentices, was oversubscribed more than 10-fold.

To promote social mobility, we need to create a more dynamic capitalism so that more firms can grow together with their people. Alongside it, we need a social contract that equips people, especially our young, to make the most of their capabilities. Only then might the gap between the social groups be narrowed to allow more people to move up, and also create a society in which we live more fulfilled lives, surely a broader conception of social wellbeing than just mobility alone.

Some of the foundations of a 21st-century social contract were laid by New Labour. The child trust fund was a means by which working-class parents could create a pool of saving for their children, their contributions matched by the state, so that as adults they would have some wherewithal to buy training or, at the very least, the means to buy or rent a home. It was carelessly scrapped by the coalition. Same story with the education maintenance allowance. Housing allowance for the young is soon to go as well. Yeovil’s young men and women are trapped both geographically and socially, while the firms that might employ them are no less stymied.

Doubtless, some teacher in a Yeovil school might have dissuaded a bright student not “to reach for the stars”, but most are only too anxious to spot and coach young talent. It is what makes the job worthwhile. But Britain’s teachers operate in the most socially polarised schools in the world, according to the OECD. The great liberal thinkers – Green, Hobhouse, Keynes and Beveridge – who wrestled with how to create a social liberalism that offered opportunity alongside capitalism would never have singled out uninspirational teachers as the cause of falling social mobility. Neither should their successors today.

Retrieved from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/28/will-hutton-education-aspiration-david-laws/print

© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

 

both sides now…charter school amendment

In Education, Education advocacy, Pedagogy, Politics, School reform on Monday, 5 November 2012 at 07:46

on election day tuesday (or before for those that voted early) egeorgia will be voting yes or no on amendment 1 which regards charter schools and states: 

“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?”

All persons desiring to vote in favor of ratifying the proposed amendment shall vote “Yes.”

All persons desiring to vote against ratifying the proposed amendment shall vote “No.”

If such amendment shall be ratified as provided in said Paragraph of the Constitution, it shall become a part of the Constitution of this state. 

you can read the specifics of the amendment here: http://www.sos.ga.gov/elections/ConstitutionalAmendmentsForNovember2012.pdf

since i am a strong believer in RESEARCHING everything and getting the facts (quantoid), i am posting two sides to the charter school amendment.  please be cautioned not to just read what i post if you are going to vote on this amendment and are looking for information, but do your due diligence in finding your own research in making an educated opinion based on your own feelings and information.

***

Charter School Amendment Supporter Speaks Out

A Letter to the Editor in favor of the Nov. 6 ballot issue claims the education establishment “is not fighting for your children.”

Editor’s Note: Last weekend East Cobb Patch published a blog post from a parent who supports charter schools but opposes HR 1162, which is on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The following commentary is written by Kelly Cadman, Vice President of School Services at theGeorgia Charter Schools Association. She is a former founder of a charter school, and a charter school mother and public education supporter.

By Kelly Cadman

There has been an awful lot of energy expended by opponents of the Charter School Amendment. The opposition to the Amendment claim that the state can “already” act as an appeals body for charter schools. Those supporting the Amendment wonder, if the state can already approve charters, why is the Education Establishment fighting THIS hard against affirming that on the ballot on November 6?

Most of the arguments posed against the Amendment are related to the enabling legislation, which establishes a Commission. The ballot question, however, ONLY reaffirms the state’s role in K-12 general education, so why the nasty battle against the Amendment?

At the heart of the argument employed by the school districts and affiliate associations who earn their bread and butter from dues and fees from the Education Establishment are two primary arguments: CONTROL and MONEY. And the Establishment doesn’t even deny it.

For those on the fence about voting on the Amendment, here are some facts to consider as you make your decision about how to vote:

LOCAL CONTROL is currently vested in elected board members in each of 180 school districts. The public is led to believe that it can, through its vote for one individual on the district board, every 4 years, only 3 times in the course of a child’s educational career, actually influence what happens in their school district. That’s nonsense.

The set-up, although through an election process, does not allow for a community to easily overhaul a district board that is failing its children and not meeting its fiduciary obligations. Moreover, you have unelected superintendents that actually run the show – aided by the Georgia School Boards Association and Georgia School Superintendents Association, both who train up weak and passive board members to follow the superintendents’ bidding. It’s a recipe for disaster without recourse.

Just look at the number of districts who have lost SACS accreditation or who are on probation. Even in these very serious situations, the local boards cannot easily be voted out by its community, and those living in APS, DeKalb, Clayton, and Sumter Counties can attest to this. They are trapped and so are their children. But goodness knows, let’s protect “local control.” Interestingly enough, we have recently had a charter go before Clayton County that was denied. Denied.

What absolute arrogance to deny the rights of parents and community members trying to get out from under failure to give their kids something better and to be denied by the very district who failed the whole community. But it is this district Establishment the opposition to the amendment wants you to “protect” by voting no. Forget what’s better for kids.

FOLLOW THE MONEY is the mantra of the opposition, but to be fair, let’s turn it around and follow the money on the other side to see how protecting the money (which isn’t in danger to begin with) ties with protecting the fiefdoms of the districts. Without doubt, the districts have had austerity reductions over the last 3 years due to the state of our economy.

There is another side to the equation to consider, and that is with spending. Without getting too deeply engaged in the rampant waste on travel and unnecessary expenses not tied to instruction, let’s look at spending just at the heart of “local control” – the boards and central offices – to see why they are fighting so hard to protect it.

  • Every single one of our school boards are paid for their “public service.” This accounts for $4.1 MILLION dollars in salary. With the austerity cuts, are board members donating their salaries back to put into classrooms? Nope. Just as an aside, charter board members receive $0 in compensation. Ever.
  • Nearly one third of the superintendents in this state make in excess of $150,000 yearly. Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks, of Gwinnett County, makes $410,000 annually, followed closely by superintendents from Clayton, Atlanta Public Schools, Savannah-Chatham, Fulton, and Cobb (3 of which are in danger of loss of accreditation, by the way). Forty-seven superintendents took a raise last year while furloughing educators.
  • Our state spent $686 MILLION dollars on central office. Seventy-seven out of our 180 districts serve less than 3000 students and have FULL central offices and account for $67 MILLION dollars of the total spent. In these tough economic times, are districts in rural areas combining central offices to reduce duplicative costs? Are large districts cutting central offices to keep money in classrooms? No, and in fact, according to a recent study by Dr. Benjamin Scafidi of Georgia College and State University, central office growth has nearly doubled the growth of students.

This is all very important in the context of this fight for money and control against the Charter Amendment. The Education Establishment is not fighting for your children. They aren’t fighting for quality education. They aren’t fighting to protect the voice of parents or teachers. They aren’t fighting for kids to become work or college ready.

Don’t be fooled by the Education Establishment. This amendment is about giving public school students a chance and parents a choice for a quality public education.

Sources of data:

Open Georgia:  www.doe.k12.ga.us

Ga DOE: http://app3.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/fin_pack_revenue.display_proc

Retrieved from: http://eastcobb.patch.com/articles/charter-school-amendment-supporter-speaks-out

 

Charter Advocate Will Vote No

By  Dana Teegardin

Georgia is in the midst of an intense debate over a proposed charter school amendment that will be on the ballot in November. Whatever your position, you need to read my story.

The polls predict this amendment will pass with flying colors, thanks to a misleading ballot question and a majority of funding from outside the state. If this amendment passes, politics and corporations will shape our schools. Charter groups with multi-faceted objectives are lining up to grab their market share. If a state-controlled charter school comes to your town, you will have little recourse if there is a problem.

Why Local Control is Critical
Proponents of the amendment declare that if a charter school is performing, it will remain open and if it is not performing, it will close. It’s not that simple when a charter group is willing to break the rules.

The problems I encountered at Fulton Science Academy Charter School in Alpharetta could not have been anticipated by our local and state board of education or by educators across the country.

The proper charter school board protocol did not work because the group running the school was not transparent. I asked for help from the local school board and from my legislator, Jan Jones, who also crafted the charter school amendment. It was the local school board that took action.

It is irresponsible of Gov. Nathan Deal, Jan Jones and our legislators to lobby for a constitutional amendment that does not stop the known problematic consequences of charter schools.

Problem? My son attended the Fulton Science Academy Charter School for three years when I found out about problems that also led to my learning that the school was being operated by followers of the influential Turkish imam, Fethullah Gulen.

Fulton Science Academy’s problems were serious and later validated, by an external audit, commissioned by the local school board. Details can be found in this article in The New York Times,Audits for 3 Georgia Charter Schools Tied to Gulen Movement.

Turns out the Gulen movement was the least of my worries.

The real problem? Legislators with tunnel vision, hoping to open the Georgia education frontier to more charter groups at any cost. My legislators demonstrated that they will look the other way as long as a school has high test scores. The legislators were willing to ignore financial mismanagement and reported federal investigations.

Local School Board Takes Action
It was the local school board that held Fulton Science Academy accountable and did not renew its charter. The local school board did the right thing even after politicians pressed for the board to reverse their decision. My experience is a critical example of why local control is necessary. The local school board took action and politicians would not help.

Vote No
Amending the constitution is serious business. Don’t vote for an amendment to the Georgia Constitution that contains weak legislation and does not address current problems we face in our state.

Details about Fulton Science Academy, including the letter I sent to the governor and legislators asking for help, can be found at Georgia Charter School Fiasco.

Retrieved from: http://eastcobb.patch.com/blog_posts/charter-advocate-will-vote-no-64de4605

 

 

a description of education in massachusetts under romney…a teacher’s story.

In Education, Education advocacy, Politics, School reform on Saturday, 3 November 2012 at 08:25

Romney’s home state teachers ask, ‘Where’s the love, Mitt?’

by Paul Toner

In the third presidential debate Mitt Romney twice proclaimed, “I love teachers!” As a middle school teacher in Massachusetts while he was governor and now president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, I can assure you that we never felt Romney’s “love.” Our former governor never once met with the MTA to find out our views on education issues. He listened to business leaders and ideologues, not to classroom teachers, support staff or public higher education faculty and staff.

We roll our eyes when Romney tries to take credit for our high-performing students. Massachusetts is a relatively affluent state that has always had good schools. Those schools were made even better as a result of a major education overhaul and increased funding for low-income districts adopted in 1993, 10 years before Romney took office. No major education initiatives were enacted while he was governor. In fact, Massachusetts cut funding for public schools by a higher percentage than any other state during his tenure.

Romney’s boast that top-scoring students can attend any public college or university in Massachusetts “tuition-free” as a result of the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship he sponsored also elicits groans from educators, parents and students alike. In Massachusetts, our public higher education campuses charge very low tuition and very high fees, so the break these students get is way less than meets the eye. For example, tuition, fees, room and board this year at the University of Massachusetts comes to $23,436. Of that, only $1,714 is tuition, so the Adams Scholarship winner still has to pay $21,722 to attend. In addition, fees rose by $3,000 under Romney, more than swallowing up any small benefit from the scholarship.

Romney was a frequent critic of those of us who call for smaller class sizes. He claimed that there is no correlation between class size and student performance even while he sent his own sons to the Belmont Hill School – an exclusive prep school that costs $37,000 a year and that touts “class size averaging 12 students per section” as one of its selling points. Truly, Mitt Romney is out of touch with the needs of low- and middle-income students.

Mitt Romney has never liked unions. He especially dislikes teacher unions. While governor, he once told The Boston Globe, “We should put together all the stakeholders at the table, but not the unions. Individual teachers, yes, but not the unions.” It’s no surprise that today he believes that teacher unions should be barred from making political contributions. Not oil companies. Not tobacco companies. Just teachers and other educators.

As with so much in this election, it’s important to get information from people close to the source to cut through the spin. This much we know. Until Mitt Romney got Potomac fever mid-way through his only term as governor and started roaming the countryside bad-mouthing our state and bad-mouthing teachers’ unions, he never gave so much as a passing glance to the teachers he now proclaims to “love.”

Toner is a middle school social studies teacher in Cambridge, Mass., and president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

Retrieved from: http://educationvotes.nea.org/2012/11/01/romneys-home-state-teachers-ask-wheres-the-love-mitt/

more on staying informed…

In Politics on Friday, 2 November 2012 at 05:28

no matter who you cast your vote for, (imo) it is your obligation to not do so blindly.  you are NOT voting for a person, but for the platform and ideals for which they stand.  to me, just going out to vote does not truly exercise your freedom and right to vote.  you must do so with knowledge of the platform and plans the person you are voting for proposes.

http://www.webmd.com/news/breaking-news/candidate-comparison/default.htm?ecd=soc_tw_110112-mid_news_healthcarereformchart

two sides of a very important coin. be informed, people!

In Politics on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 at 13:42

Why Romney Would Be Good For Doctors

Harris Meyer

Some physicians who favor Romney say that he will bring positive changes for physicians and the practice of medicine:

Introduction

Mitt Romney’s healthcare approach would be better for America’s physicians because it would unleash free-market forces to let doctors deliver quality healthcare, give consumers more private insurance choices, and drive down costs in both private and public insurance programs, say many conservative physicians.

• Many physicians backing Romney ardently support his call for repealing President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), which they see as destructive to US healthcare.

• Doctors like Romney’s proposal to encourage individual ownership of health insurance by giving people an income tax deduction for premium payments.

• They favor his ideas for deregulating insurance by letting out-of-state insurers sell policies nationally without having to meet state benefits, and boosting high-deductible health plans by letting people pay premiums out of their tax-free health savings accounts.

• And they love that Romney wants to curb medical malpractice lawsuits and reduce defensive medicine by capping noneconomic damages.

These conservative doctors may represent the majority view of physicians. A randomized national survey of 3660 doctors in September 2012, conducted by healthcare staffing firm Jackson & Coker, headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia, found that 55% of physicians said that they would vote for Romney while 36% would vote for Obama.[1] Male doctors, who comprised 72% of respondents, were far more likely to support Romney, while female doctors, who comprised 28%, were evenly split between the 2 candidates. The percentage who said that the ACA should be repealed and replaced was 55%, with 40% saying that it should be implemented and improved.

Romney supporters admit to some reservations because as Governor of Massachusetts, Romney passed a state healthcare reform law that served as the model for the federal law. Still, supporters say that, on balance, he would be far better than Obama for doctors.

Indeed, some conservatives admit that their presidential vote on November 6 will be as much anti-Obama as pro-Romney. “We have to repeal that monstrous law [the ACA],” says Robert Sewell, MD, a solo practice surgeon in Southlake, Texas, who represents the American Society of General Surgeons in the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates. “I have to take Gov. Romney at his word that, if elected, he would do that. In that case I’m a supporter of his.”

Physicians Who Are Staunch Romney Supporters

Others are more ardent in their support for Romney. “Romney wants to restore the doctor-patient relationship and have healthcare decisions made by patients in conjunction with their doctor, not by a panel of government-appointed bureaucrats,” says Scott Atlas, MD, a Stanford University neuroradiologist and Hoover Institution senior health policy fellow who is advising the Romney campaign.

“He focuses on improving private insurance options rather than shifting millions of people into government insurance. That’s good, because doctors in general don’t want to practice in an environment where their hands are tied in how to diagnose and treat patients,” says Dr. Atlas.

They also much prefer Romney’s positions on taxes, deregulation, and the economy. While Obama proposes to end the Bush tax cuts on family incomes over $250,000 and says that wealthier Americans should pay more, Romney proposes to keep the Bush tax cut for higher incomes, maintain the lower capital gains rate, reduce income tax rates by 20% across the board, and eliminate the estate tax.

“Rich people are already paying the vast majority of taxes,” Dr. Sewell says. “Romney believes that the solution is to increase the number of people with jobs paying taxes. It should be a disgrace that 47% of people don’t pay federal income taxes.”

No Benefit From Redistributing Wealth

That’s echoed by Jane Orient, MD, a Tucson general internist and executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which promotes the private practice of medicine. “Romney believes in free enterprise and he doesn’t believe we can solve problems by redistributing wealth, which is what Obamacare is about. Obama believes we can make people better by taking from people who are successful. That’s totally destructive to the economy.”

Conservative physicians express confidence that Romney’s approach would give doctors greater freedom to practice medicine in the way they think is best for patients. They believe Obama’s healthcare law puts too much emphasis on trying to keep people healthy through preventive care at the expense of providing high-tech tests and treatments for sick people. They think that it favors primary care physicians over specialists. And they believe that it creates mechanisms that would tell doctors how to practice and limits access to state-of-the-art services.

“Obama’s plan shifts spending priorities from specialty care to generalist care, and that’s rolling back the clock to the 1950s and dumbing down healthcare,” Dr. Atlas contends. “All doctors know that the key to healthcare improvement has been more and more specialist care and more access to technology and innovative drugs.”

Dr. Orient says, “The Romney plan boils down to giving people more freedom and doing away with impediments put in place by intellectuals who think they know everything, and that if the federal government sets the rules then everything will be fine.”

She believes that Romney’s approach is better than Obama’s from an overall clinical perspective. “If you put all of the resources into checking blood pressure and free contraceptives and telling patients not to smoke, it takes resources away from taking care of people who are old and sick.”

More Freedom to Negotiate Fees

Conservative doctors believe that Romney also would give doctors greater freedom to negotiate fees with insurers and patients and get out from under government-set prices, along the lines of Medicare private contracting legislation introduced by Republican lawmakers. That’s because Romney says that he would encourage the growth of health insurance plans that put more financial responsibility on consumers, including high-deductible health savings account (HSA) plans.

“Romney’s general attitude is that he’s a free-market businessman and that if you bring free-market principles back to medicine, it will be good for everyone, including doctors and patients,” Dr. Sewell says.

Dr. Orient argues that Romney’s proposals would create a virtuous cycle that would help physicians in smaller practices remain independent. Giving consumers a tax deduction for buying individually owned insurance, allowing out-of-state sales of health insurance policies without state-mandated benefits, and encouraging high-deductible policies all would boost smaller insurers. In turn, independent doctors would have greater negotiating power with those insurers than with larger insurers. In contrast, she says, under Obamacare, independent doctors are “targeted for extinction.”

Dr. Atlas argues that the greater competition between insurers will lower premiums and lead to more Americans having insurance — even without the ACA’s refundable tax credits to help people afford coverage, which he calls a “fantasy handout.” Romney’s plan “reduces prices; more people will have insurance, and that’s good for doctors,” he says.

Hopefully an Improvement in the Malpractice Madness

Even physicians leaning toward Obama say that Romney’s approach toward medical liability is better for doctors. Romney has proposed a federal cap on noneconomic damages in malpractice lawsuits — a change long sought by organized medicine — along with alternative dispute resolution of malpractice cases.

“The Affordable Care Act falls way short of what’s needed on medical liability. It just kicks the can down the road, and the problem needs to be fixed,” says Mario Motta, MD, a Salem, Massachusetts, cardiologist and member of the AMA House of Delegates who generally supports Obama’s healthcare policies.

Dr. Robert Sewell strongly favors Romney’s damage cap proposal, which his state, Texas, passed in 2003. He says that the Texas cap has resulted in fewer “frivolous” lawsuits, a sharp decline in liability premiums, and an influx of doctors into the state — though he acknowledges that it still hasn’t reduced defensive medicine or overall healthcare costs. “What’s driving up the cost of care is defensive medicine, but [the impact of the cap] hasn’t filtered into the real world yet,” he says.

Doctors who back Romney also say that their candidate’s Medicare and Medicaid proposals would help doctors and patients by preserving the fiscal solvency of those programs. Romney wants to turn Medicare into a defined-contribution program in which seniors receive a fixed amount and pick either a private health plan or traditional Medicare. On Medicaid, he would give states a capped block grant and let them run the program with greater flexibility. Dr. Atlas believes that moving more Medicare patients into private health plans would boost payments to doctors and give patients better access to care. “Romney’s plan would save Medicare and Medicaid,” he says.

A Better Philosophical Fit

Overall, conservative physicians simply find Mitt Romney’s philosophical approach a better fit with their own personal and professional worldview. They see themselves as independent physicians and entrepreneurs, and they prefer Romney’s vision of expanding free-market medicine over President Obama’s model of competition within a more regulated framework.

“I think Romney’s platform is right: It’s short and it’s nonintrusive,” Dr. Sewell says. In contrast, he believes that Obama’s approach will “make us into employees of the government. I didn’t go to medical school, do a surgical residency, and spend 30 years in practice to become a government employee. I’ll retire before I allow that to happen.”

Retrieved from: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/773048_2

Why Obama Would Be Good For Doctors

Harris Meyer

Introduction

Re-electing President Barack Obama and continuing his policies would be better for physicians because millions more Americans will have insurance and be able to pay for healthcare and preventive services, say many physicians who support Obama. Additionally, administrative costs and hassles of dealing with insurers will be reduced, and doctors will play a leading role in new delivery systems to improve care and reduce costs.

Many physician Obama supporters also believe that Obama’s economic and tax policies are better for doctors overall — even if some doctors have to pay higher income taxes — because those policies will help build a society with a stronger middle class and fewer social problems. And they believe that he would protect public investments in medical research and public health while Mitt Romney’s budget plan might slash such spending.

Physicians who back Obama base their support largely on his comprehensive healthcare reform law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Although some would have preferred a single-payer, Medicare-for-all model, they say that the ACA finally will move the nation forward in addressing the longstanding problems of lack of healthcare coverage and access, rising costs, quality-of-care gaps, and poorer population health than in other advanced countries.

Like it or not, they say, there’s no way to ensure that Americans with preexisting medical conditions can get private insurance without the controversial ACA provision requiring nearly everyone to have insurance, just as there’s no way to make insurance affordable to lower-income people without the ACA’s subsidies.

“I firmly believe what’s best for physicians is getting everyone insured,” says Mario Motta, MD, a Salem, Massachusetts, cardiologist who’s a member of the American Medical Association House of Delegates. “Whatever person or party gets us to universal healthcare, that’s who I have to support because that’s what’s best in the long run.” He believes that the ACA’s private insurance expansion is the only way to avoid a “complete government takeover” of health insurance, which he opposes.

In contrast, Mitt Romney’s proposals to repeal the ACA and deregulate health insurance would sharply increase the number of uninsured and put even greater financial pressure on physicians. A recent Commonwealth Fund study[1] projects that the number of uninsured Americans under Romney’s proposals would soar to 72 million by 2022, while dropping to 27 million under Obama’s ACA law. Among nonelderly Americans, 22% would be uninsured in 2022 under Romney’s plan, compared with 10% under Obama’s law.

Taking Care of Ill Patients

Many pro-Obama physicians were appalled at Romney’s recent comments that uninsured Americans can always get care in the hospital emergency room and that “we don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance.”

“It’s really hard to take care of patients when they can’t afford their pills or their treatment plan; they delay care until they have to go to the ER, and they skip doctor visits,” Dr. Motta says. “All of that is directly attributable to the fact that they don’t have insurance. We’ve pretty much solved that in Massachusetts.”

He leans toward Obama but appreciates the Massachusetts coverage expansion law that Romney as governor helped pass, which was the model for the ACA. He’s greatly disappointed that Romney has distanced himself from the Massachusetts reform model.

“The president’s health plan is certainly better for doctors than having 72 million people without health insurance,” agrees Rep. Jim McDermott, MD (D-Wash), a psychiatrist who represents the Seattle area and is a longtime sponsor of Medicare-for-all legislation. “It makes it possible for another 30 million people to have insurance and get preventive care. Doctors don’t want to just treat catastrophes; they want to help people be well. That’s a major step forward. Romney’s alternative is a disaster.”

Controlling Costs vs Free Market

Doctors who back Obama believe that the president’s regulated-market reform model stands a better chance of controlling costs and preserving smaller physician practices than Romney’s deregulated, free-market approach. They note that under the current competitive system, large hospital systems and insurers already are squeezing out independent doctors. And they contend that healthcare can never be a normal market because people don’t have enough information to shop for plans and providers, and sick people aren’t in a position to shop around.

Obama’s reform law establishes a regulated competition system for private insurers who, starting in 2014, will sell standardized benefit plans to individuals and small groups through new state health insurance exchanges. Insurers will have to accept all applicants regardless of preexisting conditions, with limited price variations based on age. In contrast, Romney wants to encourage more insurers to compete and offer a wide range of benefit packages, without having to meet state benefit mandates or accept applicants who haven’t had continuous coverage.

“The insurance exchange is good for doctors because then you’ve got a couple of health plans people will buy, and that cuts down on doctors’ back-office work,” Dr. McDermott says. “It’s a big drag on your office to have to take care of 25 different insurance firms and have all this paperwork. Doctors just want to take care of their patients and get paid.”

Independent Doctors

Other Obama supporters note that the current free-market model is hurting independent doctors who lack bargaining leverage, with many opting to work for hospital systems and larger groups. “Left on its own, the market will kill small private practice, no matter what doctors want to believe,” says Robert Berenson, MD, a general internist and health policy fellow at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC.

In contrast, he points to the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) demonstrations launched under the ACA, which lets groups of private physicians band together to streamline care for beneficiaries in traditional Medicare and share in any cost savings if they meet quality targets. Many ACOs have been started by physician-led groups without hospital involvement.

“The ACA set up tests of alternative payment approaches that put doctors back in control of their fate,” Dr. Berenson says. “So I think the law provides promise of a better healthcare system in which doctors will have greater satisfaction in their practice.”

Obama’s approach to Medicare and Medicaid is also better for doctors, Obama supporters argue, because he will preserve the programs as guaranteed benefits, providing patients with certainty that they’ll have access to care when they need it. In addition, his reform law enhanced Medicare’s preventive and drug coverage and extended the solvency of the program. In contrast, Romney’s Medicare voucher proposal means that people “don’t know whether they’ll have access to affordable care when they are old and sick,” says Steve Kagen, MD, an Appleton, Wisconsin, allergist and former Democratic congressman who’s proud of his vote for the ACA, which he calls the most important legislation in a century.

Similarly, he adds, Romney’s Medicaid block grant plan would “allow states to turn their back on people in need. What kind of nation would we be if we turned our back on children who are ill? By not paying providers their overhead for taking care of people in need, you’re turning your back on the community and on providers delivering lifesaving care.”

Effect on Society Beyond Doctors

More broadly, physicians who support Obama feel that his economic policies are better for all Americans, and that’s good for doctors. “As doctors, we’re dependent on a successful middle class, and our best opportunity is expanding the middle class,” Dr. Kagen says. “In my view, Obama has the best plan to expand the middle class, by investing in education, clean energy, and infrastructure. Then I’ll do better.”

Dr. Berenson adds that even though physicians might benefit financially from Romney’s proposals to cut taxes for wealthier Americans, “they wouldn’t be very happy with a society marked by increasing disparities between the rich and poor, more crime, and more demands on public funding for food and shelter. That’s not a world I want to live in.”

Regardless of their tax bills, he says that doctors’ professional interests lie more with Obama and the Democrats because “at least Democrats are trying to do something about the obvious problems in the healthcare system, while I’ve seen no evidence that Romney and the Republicans have any views of what should happen. Romney passed a very good law in Massachusetts, he’s proud of it, but he can’t tell anyone because his party is so Neanderthal on the issue.”

The bottom line is that doctors who back President Obama strongly prefer his focus on ensuring that all Americans have access to healthcare and a way to pay for it. “I assume doctors mostly go into the profession because they want the personal satisfaction of improving the health of the public,” Dr. Berenson says. “The obvious benefit of Obama’s law is that it sets up an environment where doctors can feel proud that they are working in the health system.”

Retrieved from: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/773050?src=mp

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